The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
241 Pages
Reviewed on 02/11/2013
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Best Selling and Award Winning Author Duncan Whitehead was born in England in 1967. After a successful career in the Royal Navy where he served in British Embassies throughout South America and saw service in the Gulf War he joined the world of super yachts as a Purser on-board some of the world's largest private vessels, working for many high profile individuals, being fortunate enough to visit some of the world's most luxurious and exotic places.

Eventually retiring to Savannah, Georgia, he began to partake of his greatest passion, writing. Initially writing short stories he finally put pen to paper and wrote THE GORDONSTON LADIES WALKING CLUB, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness of his new environment. The book, a dark comedy mystery, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists, is set in the leafy neighborhood where he lived.

His passion for comedy saw submissions to many online satire news sites and a stint performing as a stand- up comedian.

He is a former boxer, representing the Royal Navy and an English under 19 team as an amateur and is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language as well as a former accomplished children's soccer coach.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Brenda Casto for Readers' Favorite

Secrets abound in the tiny neighborhood of Gordonston, an affluent neighborhood outside Savannah. The four members of the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club have been meeting for the last ten years in the neighboring dog walking park. While their dogs romp and play, they share cocktails and the latest gossip. When one of their members Thelma Miller passes away from throat cancer, we start to see the secrets that the other three members have been hiding. Two members are hot for Thelma's husband, and hope to snag him, while the other one holds a deep hatred for him. In addition to the ladies we also meet several neighbors that use the dog park, and each one has something to hide, whether it is an affair that they don't want revealed or perhaps it is a secret job no one knows about. One thing is for certain: the residents of Gordonston will do anything to protect their secrets even if it means murder!

I loved the way Mr. Whitehead presents this story. In the first chapter he opens with someone digging a hole, which firmly hooked me because I knew a murder was going to be committed. But I couldn't figure out who would be killed or even who the murderer would be. "The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club" provides the reader with an interesting cast of characters, all of whom seem to be honest, upstanding citizens, but once their stories are revealed they are anything but that. Instead we learn of the dirty little secrets that they have kept hidden. Duncan Whitehead creates several interesting characters but does a fantastic job of making each one unique so that I never had to wonder who I was reading about. In addition to well-crafted characters, the author also provides a fast moving plot filled with mystery, suspense and intrigue along with several twists that left me breathless with anticipation as to what might happen next. All I can say about the ending is that I never guessed who would be revealed as the hit man or the Director. A real page turner that is perfect for anyone who enjoys a story filled with secrets, mystery and devious characters. Even though I loved the ending I can only hope that Mr. Whitehead will continue this story with a sequel; after all there are three more jobs to be completed! On a scale of one to five I would give this book a six because it is just that good!

Alice DiNizo

Carla Zipp, Cindy Mopper and Heidi Launer Marsh are members of the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club along with Thelma Miller who now lies dying of throat cancer. The only requirements for this club are having a dog to walk in the park each afternoon and being willing to sit afterwards at a park picnic table and enjoy a cocktail. Thelma dies and leaves behind her husband, Elliott, whom the Dog Walking Club ladies aspire to woo and wed. Elliot is known for his published children's stories and years ago, as a young man, he frequented a local restaurant, La Casa Grande, in Argentina. There he met the very elderly Senor Kurtze who shared with Elliot his stories of wizards, dragons, witches and magical forests. He also gives Elliot a signed copy of a book he had written some time before. Elliott kept that book as he typed out each of Senor Kurtze's children's stories and mailed them to his then-fiance Thelma who read them to her boys. Elliott returned to Georgia, married Thelma, and published Kurtze's stories as his own. The stories brought Elliott and Thelma a lot of money and thus several years passed. Now with Thelma's death, Carla and Cindy bake pies for Elliott but Heidi has other plans in the back of her mind. Heidi's lineage is Austrian and she clearly remembers a favorite uncle telling her the very same stories. She also remembers that uncle's rise to power in Germany. And she has murder on her mind. But the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club have other issues to deal with: an elderly black man walks his dog in the park and doesn't pick up the dog's leavings.

"The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club" is a delightful mystery that hints all sorts of things, including a connection to Adolf Hitler. The characters of Heidi, Carla, Cindy, Elliott and their neighbors, the younger Doug and Veronia and Kelly and Tom as well as "The Director" are all well-created, believable and even a bit amusing. As a murder is carried out, the corpse is buried in the park where those Gordonston ladies walk their dogs and drink. Author Duncan Whitehead has created a mystery with amusing subplots that no one should miss.

Fiona Ingram

When Thelma Miller dies, everything changes in the leafy Savannah neighborhood of Gordonston. Her three closest friends and fellow members of her afternoon cocktail club (aka Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club) gather to mourn the death and lament the life of their neighbor but already the dynamics of their once close relationship have changed. Gordonston is a typical gated community, where all is amity and tranquility, and the only thing that mars this idyllic existence is the ONE person who does not ‘scoop the poop’ after walking his dog. Thelma’s death unleashes a relentless juggernaut of revenge that crashes into these once-peaceful lives. Old sins cast long shadows and ancient histories are revealed in an intertwined web of deception. A killer lurks in the wings and is it anyone we may guess it to be? Hearts beat faster, passions surge, and dark secrets spill over and threaten to destroy the harmony. Age is no barrier to desire. Wwhen the chips are down, the resident widows will do anything to secure the affections of the newly widowed Elliot Miller who has political prospects. Added to this overriding theme are the various ambitions of a motley assortment of characters, from the mysterious European gentleman in South America, the young Italian count in Paris and a charitable and kind hearted nephew recently arrived from India, the lovely Kelly (who could even be a model) and her handsome fire-fighter husband, and the Englishman (who seems suspicious) and his young daughter, to a mysterious killer with links to organized crime. Who is destined for an early-unmarked grave in the wooded park that centers the tree-lined avenues of Gordonston?

This is an absolutely hilarious cozy murder mystery with a kick. A chilling beginning develops into a full-blown saga of intrigue, deceit, and vengeance as petty rivalries escalate and various players set wheels in motion to accomplish their ambitions. With an unerring eye, Duncan Whitehead homes in on the tiny details that make each character unique. His darkly comic style is reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith’s writing, with a dry, tongue-in-cheek touch. Seemingly unrelated people and events are drawn into a deadly entanglement that keeps the reader glued to the pages until the denouement that surprises. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more from this author. Recommended.

Jack Magnus

"The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club" opens in the early pre-dawn hours as an assassin quietly smokes a menthol cigarette after he finishes digging a shallow grave. The Gordonston Park is perfect for such clandestine activities as it is open only to the privileged residents of that neighborhood. During the daylight hours, the Gordonston residents take their canine companions for a romp under the watchful and somewhat jaundiced eyes of the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, an elite trio of older women who are lamenting the final hours of their fourth member, the only one of the group who is not a widow. Two of them have already contemplated life with the soon-to-be widower, and the dog-park friendship between them is starting to feel frayed.

I was intrigued by the title of this book as I have on many occasions been under the scrutiny of dog-walker cliques and seen first-hand the stresses and strains those friendships suffer and inflict upon others. Duncan Whitehead gives the reader a startlingly realistic view of the Dog Walking Club, and the world-view they seem to share. He also serves up a smashing mystery and black comedy at the same time. There are plots and subplots, and it is a delight to untangle the good clues away from the ones that lead nowhere. The competition between Carla and Cindy is spot-on and a riot to watch. What seems to be a cozy mystery has some very sharp, sinister and funny edges. This is a very entertaining book and should be on any dog owner's list, and anyone else who likes their mysteries dark and wickedly funny.

Alexander Rigby

"The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club" by Duncan Whitehead is the kind of novel that keeps the surprises coming, page after page. It is full of many characters, all of them memorable in their own right. The dog walking club that gives the book its title serves as a kind of anchor that binds all of the various stories of the novel together. In particular, the two characters I found the most interesting were Kelly and Elliott. The novel starts with the death of Elliott’s wife, Thelma, and progresses fast from there as lies, secrets and betrayals are exposed. Elliott himself has a rather large secret to cover up from his past, while Kelly’s indiscretion unfolds in the pages of the novel as she finds herself becoming romantically involved with a man in Paris who, as it happens, is not her husband.

I enjoyed this book because there were many parts of it that were unexpected, and even though these plot points came as a surprise, I could tell that Whitehead had purposely planned them that way, so they made sense in the context of his story. Having just recently visited Savannah myself, I thought he adequately described the atmosphere and how the people in Gordonston behave. Some of the characters he created reminded me of people I met on my trip to the state of Georgia. All in all, this was a well-thought-out novel. Whitehead has been successful in intricately weaving multiple storylines together for a well-written, dramatic tale.

Maria Beltran

The "Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club" is a thriller set in the picture perfect Savannah neighborhood of Gordonston. It is a twenty chapter book that revolves around the lives of the members of the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Cub, a group of women who are fond of cocktails and dogs. The members are Heidi, Cindy, Carla and Thelma. Heidi is the club's leader and she is a domineering eighty years old woman while Cindy is your typical suburban housewife. On the other hand, Carla is a former showgirl in Las Vegas while Thelma is cancer stricken. As the story continues, the plot becomes quite complicated with Cindy and Carla fighting over Elliot, the recently widowed husband of Thelma, and it is revealed that all these respectable ladies have their own dirty secrets. In addition, there is a contract killer in their midst and the identity of the killer's employer becomes a puzzle. We are then presented with a host of other interesting characters that muddle the mystery even more.

Duncan Whitehead successfully weaves a story that is full of interesting characters, and whose lives are intertwined in a plot that is full of twists and turns. His narrative lets us peek into the minds of the members of the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club that is not as perfect as it looks from the outside. The story opens with a hint of mystery and murder, effectively setting the flair of the narrative, and there is no let up after this. The other characters involved in the story make the whole scene more interesting. They are very effective in making the mixture of intrigue and mystery go up to the next level. Also, the reader is transported from Gordonston to Argentina and Paris because of the author's descriptive style. And it is to the credit of this excellent writing style that one can easily get carried away in this highly intriguing thriller.